Laureate Dr Helen McCue AM
We are honoured to announce the winner of the 2023-2024 Jerusalem (Al Quds) Peace Prize as APHEDA co-founder, nurse and advocate for refugee and women’s rights, Dr Helen McCue AM.
Jerusalem (Al Quds) Peace Prize winner
Dr Helen McCue has been awarded the prize for four decades of passionate advocacy and support for Palestine, through her work with APHEDA and the union movement.
Australians for Palestine (AFP) and the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) are honoured to announce the winner of the 2023-2024 Jerusalem (Al Quds) Peace Prize as APHEDA co-founder, nurse and advocate for refugee and women’s rights, Dr Helen McCue AM.
Dr Helen McCue has been awarded the prize for forty-one years of passionate advocacy and support for Palestine, through her work with Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA and the union movement.
In spite of the tragic and painful loss of her dear friend and mentor Olfat Mahmoud on September 24th last year, Dr McCue will continue to be inspired by the memory and example of this exceptional, inspirational, activist warrior for peace and for the Palestinian cause.
In 1983, Dr McCue was a young nurse consultant educator for the World Health Organisation in the Middle East, before being seconded to the United Nations Relief and Works Organisation (UNRWA) to work in Lebanon. After witnessing the horror of the massacre of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, she left her role to volunteer in refugee camps alongside Palestinian nurse Olfat Mahmoud.
Dr McCue returned to Australia to inspire the ACTU to found Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA, becoming their first Executive Director. The vision of Union Aid Abroad was for the Australian union movement to express their solidarity in the lives of workers globally. Their first project was a community nurse training program for nurses from the camps across the Middle East region and from Gaza. Over the years, Dr McCue continued to work in solidarity and partnership with Dr Olfat Mahmoud to support various training and humanitarian projects with Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
Dr McCue’s collaboration with Dr Mahmoud has been an inspiration to many about how allies can stand alongside Palestinians in their struggle for self-determination and dignity. Dr McCue supported Dr Mahmoud to travel to Australia many times to tell her story, and taken many Australians, including then Foreign Minister Gareth Evans to see for themselves the reality of life for Palestinians.
Dr McCue undertook a PhD on gender and Islam, which was inspired by Dr McCue wondering what made Palestinian women so strong, so independent.
Dr McCue has also worked in solidarity with workers, migrants and women more broadly. Dr McCue co-founded Rural Australians for Refugees after the demonisation of refugees during the Tampa Crisis. She has worked at the University of Melbourne’s Islamic Centre of Excellence in Islamic Studies and the University of Sydney’s Law Faculty where her major research focus was on Muslim women in Australia. She has published a number of academic papers and chapters, and co-authored Family Law and Australian Muslim Women with Professor Abdullah Saeed. Dr McCue has received several national and international awards including an Order of Australia for her human rights, refugee and humanitarian work.
In 2003 Dr McCue was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for her dedication to refugee issues. She said “I’ve taken a very active position in supporting Palestinian human rights and in humanitarian work with Palestinian refugees”.
2022 Jerusalem (Al Quds) Peace Prize Ceremony
Scroll to view the 2022 Prize Ceremony, where the Hon. Melissa Parkes won the Jerusalem (Al Quds) Peace Prize.